Forests typically are regarded as a carbon sink for greenhouse gases. But researchers at the Department of Earth Sciences can now show that forests growing on drained peatland emit large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over a forest’s life span of 80 years.
In Sweden forests on drained wetland cover 1.2 million hectares, which represents 5 per cent of productive forest land in Sweden. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and thereby mitigate the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But when former wetlands are drained to make room for forests, organic material stored in the soil breaks down, causing huge emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.